A Swiss Home So Well Designed It Needs Just One Door

As their careers took them to various cities in Europe, the United States and Asia, Stef Claes and Michiel De Meulemeester, who are both Belgian, were used to leasing whatever lackluster apartments they could find. But when Mr. Claes, an architect, and Mr. De Meulemeester, a business executive who manages Mr. Claes’s firm, settled down in Geneva, they began thinking about creating a more appealing home.

After leaving Paris, where they had a 320-square foot apartment, “we lived, for the first five years, in a rental,” said Mr. De Meulemeester, 37. “In Geneva, our apartment was two-and-a-half times as big, so we felt like kings. But after a while, we started to dream about acquiring our own little home.”

Stef Claes, a Belgian architect, left, and Michiel De Meulemeester, his partner in life and work, renovated an apartment in Geneva to create a place where they could finally feel at home.Credit…Aurelien Bergot for The New York Times

When they began hunting for a property in 2017, there wasn’t much on the market. They had seen a listing for a ground-floor apartment in a 1930s building facing Lake Geneva, but ignored it because they wanted to live on a higher floor.

When they ran out of other options, Mr. Claes finally decided to take a look, and was surprised by what he found. “Good energy, good light, nice proportions,” said Mr. Claes, 40. “There was also a little garden it looked onto, which was super cute.”

The 1,400-square-foot space was in dire need of renovation, as it hadn’t been updated in decades, which made it ideal for a couple looking to put their own stamp on a home. They bought it for 1.3 million Swiss francs (about $1.47 million) near the end of 2017 and began planning an overhaul.

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